Lurid! Sexy! Wild! Why movie posters are still the coolest.

April 25, 2011


A good movie poster plants an image you can’t ignore…

Is there any form of advertising on earth more attractive, compelling and continuously relevant than good old movie posters? Sometimes sleazy, sometimes artful, a good movie poster transcends time and technology. Even as movies go online the posters for them remain forever an integral part of their launch and success.

It doesn’t even matter if a film is good or bad. Frankly, bad films usually have the coolest posters of all. For it is in the cult and horror genres where film posters come alive…and slice you to pieces!


Bloody good copy!

Horror films, especially, deliver the goods. The lone carriage from Rosemary’s Baby. That gruesome cracking egg from Alien, with its killer tagline: “In space no one can hear you scream.” How can one look away, let alone not see the movie?


So lurid, so beckoning… As a young boy, I remember being transfixed by these garish come-ons every time I passed by a theater or opened a newspaper. To me they encapsulated everything appealing about being 13 years old in America. Like comic book and album covers they had a certain something. Not only did I want to see the films they advertised, I wanted to own the posters as well, collect them, cherish them, frame them, and display them. And indeed I did. If my wife didn’t come along I probably still would.

To this day, I believe that certain something is what made the Altoids’ ad campaign so successful. Each execution –the good ones anyway- felt like the poster for an upcoming film. Whether salacious or funny or both, it promised something good.


We called her ‘Kitten with a Whip’

“Promising something good.” If that’s not the mission of any good ad I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, the big business of filmmaking has diminished the output of these gems. Nowadays, most movie posters are generic, offering little more than a film’s title and big portraits of the leading actor(s).

Blah! I especially loathe the cliché’s. Why does every other movie poster feature the lead actor holding a weapon? Do we need a gun pointed at us in order to see the movie? It worked with Rambo, yes, but loses something after, say, 100 million other movies.


Lose the piece, eh bro?

What about you, Gentle Reader? Are you as passionate about movie art as I am? What are some of your favorites? Is there a better tagline than the one for Alien?

4 Responses to “Lurid! Sexy! Wild! Why movie posters are still the coolest.”

  1. Johnny said

    I absolutely love movie posters. I actually encourage our creative department to introduce/present new campaigns to clients by creating a “movie poster” for each idea. (Which generates pretty great results.)

    Classic favorites: “Straw Dogs,” “Bullitt” and “The Battle of Algiers.” As for recent films, the two-part French film “Mesrine” was introduced with these two posters…

    http://bit.ly/eLHwPx
    http://bit.ly/i0rjri

    I bought both posters. The film was terrific too.

  2. Tracy said

    …speak of the devil. Which is why I really enjoyed this work by a Spanish design firm. They re-imagined posters for classic films as designed by Saul Bass, Herb Lubalin etc.

    From the FontShop blog:
    http://bit.ly/dK6Twy

    I really love titles. I didn’t particularly enjoy The Other Guys but the closing credits were awe-some.

  3. troyfreund said

    Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws are two classic poster images that spring to mind. I LOVE movie poster art–especially when it is NOT composited images of the leads.🙂

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